Blogger Richard Delevan, the source for info from Ireland, linked to a fascinating, quarterly updated, chart of changes in European GDP growth (Auf Deutsch or en Français.):
European GDP Growth: 1997-2004 (click to enlarge)
By way of comparison, US Bureau of Economic Affairs data on US GDP growth looks better:
US GDP Growth: 1997 - 2004 (click to enlarge)
(another graph here.)
Since January 2003, European GDP has grown at half the rate of the US, including 3.8 percent in the US (fourth quarter '04) vs. about 2.0 percent in Europe.
Res Ipsa Loquitur.
Before dismissing GDP growth as mere "corporate interests," see Freedom House's annual table showing the positive correlation between growth in Gross National Income and political freedom.